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A glimpse of history

Braga was founded by the Romans in the year 27 b. C. and named Bracara Augusta to honour the Emperor. In the 3rd century it was the capital of the Roman province of Galaecia. Later on, in the 5th century, it was conquered by Sueve forces and chosen by those as its capital. The first king of this bracarian proto-state was Hermerico. Followed the Visigoth reign. In that period it was already an important religious centre.

Between the 8th and the 10th centuries, the city was invaded by Arabic forces, being totally destroyed. In the 11th century it resumes its course in the shadow of the cathedral and the power of the archbishops, lords of Braga.

In 1494 it was published at João Gherlinc's typography the first print breviary of local manufacture.

In the 16th century, D. Diogo de Sousa, a humanist and true Renaissance prince, archbishop of Braga from 1505 to 1532, carries out a profound transformation of the old medieval town (with 24 streets and 800 dwellings), both in urbanism and in the cultural side. He enriches the Cathedral with the majestic apse. He ordered streets and squares to be opened inside and outside the defensive walls (Vineyard Field, Oak groves, Orchards, Remedies). He creates Saint Mark's Hospital. He enriches Braga with fountains and sculptures. He orders the opening of the great alley named Santana's Field, today Central Avenue. Also, in that period, the eminent religious characteristics of the city are reinforced by means of the foundation of countless monasteries, convents (Saint Frutuoso, Remedies, Saint Paul's, Pópulo, Saviour, and others), colleges, seminaries, brotherhoods, and the like. It is that evolution that strongly imprints the mentality and way of life of Braga's inhabitants.

Braga, at the beginning of the 18th century, shows itself as a pious, closed, introverted city, windows protected by jalousies and lattices that, inspired by religious buildings, rapidly spread to the urban extent.

In the 18th century, the city flourishes in the new architectural style - the Baroque - which so deep an imprint has left on it. In that epoch exceeds in activity the one that can be considered the greatest genius of the bracarian art, André Soares. To him must be credited, among others, the City Hall, the Thunder's Small Palace and the Church of Congregates.

At this point in time Braga centralized an important share of the rural hinterland it ruled. Since the 19th century, a tendency to uncharacterization and destruction of its historical centre gains momentum. To that scope a major impulse has been set by the French invasions and the Liberal wars, that have raided Braga with a multitude of robberies, plunder and destructions; and in another way with the purpose of "modernization", which set pace to the destruction of important monuments and to the almost total defacing of the medieval and renaissance city. This entropic process reaches to the present, in contrast with the development and rising in importance of Braga, true heartland of the Minho province.


In Braga, Guia Turístico. Braga, Edições Espaço, September 1985.